Influencer Interview Series: Cyclists Sharyn and Tim Nilsen
Fare Voyager had the fortunate chance to launch their interview series with Sharyn and Tim Nilsen from Catch Our Travel Bug. They have courageously biked more miles than most people have flown on a plane. Here is what they shared with us:
Q: Where are you from?
Broken Hill, a tiny mining town in the Australian Outback
Q: What one travel experience changed your life and why?
After years of backpacking we arrived in Bishkek, Krygystan to get some onward visas for our trip along the Silk Route. We stayed in a small hostel that was favored by touring cyclists in various stages of round the world and long distance journeys. To hear their stories of their interactions with locals along the way made us realize that with the advent of technology, backpacking has lost some of it's challenge for us.
We got to thinking that even though we were way older than all of them that maybe...just maybe...we could do that too. The rest they say is history. By the time we'd reached Dushanbe we had a plan. In Istanbul we started to work out how that plan could become a reality. By the time we'd finished 10 months overland in Africa, we had the bikes and gear on order and waiting for us in Perth.
Despite Tim never having ridden more than 15 kms, we hopped on board and cycled 7000 km to Brisbane. We've since cycled from the Arctic Circle to Budapest, and are madly planning our next trip across North America.
"No-one believed us when we said we'd cycle across Australia and we had no idea if we could. But we tried and we succeeded."
Q: How has travel inspired you to be a better person?
Travel has made us realize that you can't learn history through a book. Visiting new countries and learning about new cultures has given us the ability to see a story from many different sides. We don't just accept main stream media at face value, we actively seek out different perspectives to gain a deeper understanding.
Q: If you could visit anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
Our current plans have Sri Lanka right up at the top of the list. We'll spend 2 to 3 months there starting January. Next on the list is a planed trip from Tajikistan, across the Pamir and Karakoram Highways to Pakistan which we've heard incredible stories about.
"We don't just accept main stream media at face value, we actively seek out different perspectives to gain a deeper understanding."
Q: There are so many ways to improve the world around us. What cause do you support? And why should other people stand in unity with you?
Our long term charity has been Childfund Australia. We gave up buying meaningless gifts for nieces and nephews long ago and instead sponsored a young girl in Africa. When we wanted to provide support we looked for an organization with low administrative overheads and who would have impact on a whole community, not just one child.
Q: What travel plans do you have lined up for 2018 and what about them excites you the most?
2018 will see us visit Sri Lanka for a few months, then do a bit of a hop skip and jump to the UK via the Maldives, UAE, Oman, and Qatar. We pick up our touring bicycles in the UK and fly them into Toronto. From there we'll cycle them across the USA and then up to Vancouver. When it gets too cold, we'll fly them into the north of Vietnam and cycle to the South where we base ourselves between trips.
"The great majority of people are kind, generous, and hospitable no matter what their economic circumstances."
Q: What 3 pieces of advice would you give to a fellow traveler?
1. The world is much safer than you think. Dare to discover places off the beaten track and they will make some of your most treasured memories. 2. Push your limits. No-one believed us when we said we'd cycle across Australia and we had no idea if we could. But we tried and we succeeded. That's given us a huge boost in confidence that we can push the envelope even further. 3. The great majority of people are kind, generous, and hospitable no matter what their economic circumstances. Trust your instincts but don't avoid interactions with locals because you're afraid to take a risk, even in the poorest countries.
Q: If someone was trying to become a travel influencer, what one piece of advice would you give?
Be genuine. We don't consider ourselves influencers in the way the term is bandied about. We certainly don't have a huge social media following, mainly because we're too busy exploring to work on building it the way all the experts say you should. But plenty of people do seek us out, ask for advice and are interested in what we do. We're more than happy to help out if we can, and we've seen people follow our advice and have amazing experiences. That's hugely rewarding.